The Crucial Role Of Regional MMA

Mixed Martial Arts is mainly dominated by the big league promotions, from the top of the pile being the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to Cage Warriors, PFL, OKTAGON MMA and many many more from across the four corners of the globe.


But none of these would have the warriors they hold on the roster today without the many phenomenal regional promotions that have helped mould these prolific beasts on their respective journeys to the big leagues.


These journeys are draped in blood, sweat and tears and the capturing of gold that I can imagine, means so much to these athletes we all know and follow.


I’ve managed to grab some words from some fighters regarding the importance of the regional scene, from warriors just starting out in their MMA journey as Dave Letchford. Current Cage Warriors standout Corvan Allen, to superstar Danni McCormack, all of which holds the start of their career’s in high regard.


Dave Letchford of Fitter Faster Stronger


“I think the regional scene of MMA is very important as it gives young up and coming fighters such as myself a chance to showcase their skills and gain valuable experience before moving up the ranks to bigger and better things.” 


Corvan Allen Current Cage Warriors fighter


“Regional MMA truly is the life blood of the Mma community as a whole. Not only does it serve as nutrient rich soil for a young upstart’s budding MMA career,  but it can also breathe life into the dimming careers of our ageing veterans. Support regional MMA and witness your favourite local fighter become a STAR!”


Danni McCormack: Invicta world champion, IMMAF Silver Medalist, coach at Relentless Martial Arts


“The regional scene is the foundation to all MMA communities. This is where all talent is developed and grown before moving onto bigger things. It is essential and I can’t imagine what things would look like without it.”


Behind every fighter is a coach that has worked night and day to mould these prolific athletes who have been through every walk to the cage throughout their respective Journeys. Who also knows the importance of the start up promotions, and knows the importance of them.


I grabbed some words from UK legend and head coach of Great Britain Top Team Brad ‘One Punch’ Pickett, on his view of the importance of the scene.


Brad Pickett: UFC, WEC, Cage Rage and Bodog vet and head coach of Great Britain Top Team image by Candice Claassen


“For me, the grassroots level of MMA is very important, the grassroot level of any sport is important. It’s where people get the experiences in competition both inside and outside of the gym, getting used to competing against people from different backgrounds and gyms. Things like interclubs are very good and it all scales from that to regional shows, it’s an important part of learning. Obviously shows should be run correctly with safety in mind, especially in combat sport. So I believe the regional scene is an integral part of MMA and the growth of MMA.”


There are no end of people involved in these events that also hold a vast knowledge of the fight game, that get to witness these events unfold. I also grabbed some views from the UK’S veteran MC Ricky Wright, regional commentator Rob Nutley, and MMA referee Sam Armidi. Who have so many years of experience at many local, to worldwide events. And Legendary MMA referee Leon Roberts.


Ricky Wright: International Fight MC


“As cliche as it sounds, the regional scene is the lifeblood of the sport. In my 20 years being involved in MMA I’ve watched athletes make their amateur debuts, rise through the ranks and then appear in the UFC. All champions started somewhere. Even Hall of Fame inductee Jose Aldo fought in the small halls of Reading and Portsmouth before reaching the top.”


Rob Nutley: MMA Commentator and BJJ promoter image by Candice Claassen


“I think the regional scene is an integral part of a fighters’ growth. It allows young and local fighters to test their skill and knowledge. The amateur scene is a great scene in the UK, and it is a great place to see some of the young superstars of the future cut their teeth. It also allows them to understand that they are their own commodity by building up a fan base. The sport of MMA in this country is something else. With so many good quality gyms and coaches around the country, it is easy to see why brits either hold or have held titles in the world’s elite competitions. The quality of fighters coming out of the UK is amazing. And it’s largely with thanks to these regional shows that allow them to grow.”


Sam Armidi: International MMA referee, officiate at Bellator MMA, Karate Kombat, Fightstar Championship and Spartacus Fighting Championship image by Candice Claassen


“The regional MMA scene is the foundation for competitors to showcase their skills. In actual fact it’s the foundation for all who partake in the sport including officials. 


The regional scene has taken huge strides in recent years to improve on the safety element and fair matchups. This has allowed some of the top talents to really shine through and test themselves against each other knowing where they stand before going pro. 


Whilst there is still work to be done to improve the sport for all involved, it’s clear to see the progress the sport has made. Just look at the youth scene and how that is now taken as seriously as the adult scene with huge interests in who the next talent is going to be. It’s amazing to see this level of interest and it’s only going to grow. It’s just as important that the regional scene grows with it and maintains high standards.


Without the regional scene it’s hard for the bigger promotions to identify who the right fighters are to step up to those levels. So not only has it benefited the regional scene, in fact it’s created larger talent pools for the higher ranked promotions, allowing them to also improve their level of competition.


From an official’s point of view, it allows us to really get those interested in officiating a pathway to slowly build. We use these platforms to bring officials to shadow, get involved in various roles and begin giving them more exposure to refereeing and judging as they become more competent. This in turn allows us to have good officials, who want to do the right thing and in turn this is to the benefit of those competing, giving them comfort that they have someone in the middle knowing what they’re doing and they can go out and showcase their skills. Our role is to make the fighters feel as comfortable as possible and that they only think of one thing and that’s their match up. The regional shows are closing the gap on the standards expected and by doing so it creates a smoother transition to the higher level shows for the competitors.”


My overall view is that whilst there are improvements to be made on the regional scene as the standards fluctuate between promotions. There is a real sense that things are moving in the right direction. Less mismatches, more shows using doctors and really investing in the safety protocol. I’d like to see the amateur scene move into a licensing format, where they apply for a license to compete and in doing so they have to have an annual blood test and eye test. We are in a blood sport and protecting ourselves against any blood diseases is important. That being said, we’re moving in the right direction and we need to continue on making those small steps for the better of the sport.”

iconic MMA referee Leon Roberts

“Regional grassroots MMA shows, when done by the right people for the right reasons, are a fundamental building block to our sport. When done correctly they provide a safe environment to nurture both athletes and officials and help shape the future of our sport. Several UFC stars from this Country started at regional grassroots shows and my own career as a former UFC referee started on regional grassroots shows. The shows provide a professional platform where athletes, coaches and officials can be educated correctly by those of us with decades of experience in the sport. My passion is such that I will work on local grassroots shows and use my knowledge and experience to guide officials, educate coaches and keep athlete’s safe. To work on a local grass roots show as an official and be part of a fighter’s journey,  sometimes to the world stage is a very enjoyable and meaningful experience.”


And last but not least, these fighters’ stories could never have been created without the dedicated promoters who have provided the stage for these many exceptional journeys. This is what Meltdown Fighting Championship‘s promoter Paul Sutherland and Fightstar Championship‘s Promoter Raj Singh had to say on the importance


Paul Sutherland: Promoter at Meltdown Fighting Championship and Head coach at Trojan Free Fighters


“The regional scene is integral for the development of up and coming fighters to get them the relevant experience & exposure before stepping up onto bigger shows. The slow and steady progress from youth to amateur & from amateur to pro from a coaches standpoint is key in the longevity & success of your fighters career. From a promoters standpoint it’s great to see prospects coming through local events and eventually building up winning amateur titles, perhaps getting national amateur selection and competing in tournaments like the IMMAF’s etc, before going professional.”

Raj Singh: Promoter at Fightstar Championship

“The regional scene helps not just the fighters but also the promotions and officials to grow and improve from the ground up. The MMA in the UK levelled up fast, this mainly down to the regional scene, and that’s why the regional scene is an integral part of UKMMA. “

These are just a few of the many outlooks  we have been able to gather, but shows you from all aspects that the regional scene is as important as the big time shows. As someone who has attended many cards across London, I have witnessed 1st hand How paramount it is.


I’ve witnessed fighters battle it out at my local show reach Cage Warriors, OKTAGON MMA, PFL and even the summit of the UFC. so when you see a poster, a post on social media or even get an offer from friends to attend one in your area, pop by. You never know, you could witness the rise of a superstar, and have the opportunity to support and watch their rise to superstardom.

image by Candice Claassen

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Feature image by Candice Claassen

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